Recently, I found myself apologizing for something I am not actually sorry for – being busy.
This is a life lesson I do not plan to repeat. Okay, that might be presumptuous and slightly unrealistic, given I am too busy to remember all my good intentions for self-improvement. Technology may be the only thing that saves me, either way.
My smart phone device (operated by a dumb phone user) is loaded with apps and tools to make staying in touch easier. That’s a good thing. Instead of feeling guilty that I don’t call my friends and family nearly enough, I can now add the guilt of not texting a response immediately, not replying to emails the same day they arrive, or not responding to BlackBerry messages when the sender can clearly see I received the note.
But there are the good communicators too, like the ones who don’t expect a reply. They are never annoying because they are too busy to be, but like me, they just want to reach out occasionally with a brief note as a reminder that there is a world beyond deadlines and sports arenas.
These friends are more like psychic messengers, sending affirmations when I get maxed out on stress, sending me hockey score updates so I can cheer from afar, or offering a few choice words when I need a kick in the proverbial pants when I forget to stop and actually live life.
I have a dear pal who sends me positive notes when she divines my stress levels are too high. She’s almost spooky in her clairvoyance of knowing I need to hear from her. Another friend sends me funny messages at intervals throughout the week so we can vent with mutual confidentiality about our conspiracy theories on workplace drama, community politics or why mean people suck. Another carpool pal sends me morning emails to organize schedules because we both know we are not nice morning people, so why fake politeness with a 7am phone call, before the caffeine kicks in?
The sad part is, I now use my mobile device within the confines of the workplace, which is absolutely ridiculous, because as employees, we have become too lazy to actually get up and walk from one department to another to ask a question. No wonder my stretch jeans are maxed out. I don’t even move, because I don’t have to. Pathetic.
Working in a newsroom with more deadlines than my bylines can handle, I figure it’s best to flip the BlackBerry over and ignore the tool. I have rationed my usage throughout the day, allowing only work-related calls, calls from schools, my children and emergency contacts.
When I remember to take a break, I take my friends with me in my pocket and find a quiet spot to catch up. Even if I don’t reply, with the advent of social media I know that my cousin in Barbados survived the “Frankenstorm” while my friends in Nova Scotia are battening down the hatches in preparation, and my friend’s kid just lost their first tooth. Good enough.
I am not sorry I don’t have time to be everything to everyone, because I do my best. My loved ones know I am only a phone call, BBM, text message, FB post away. Eventually, I will hit reply.